The “Huge” Caravan Going to the United States Isn’t Huge.

Unofficial immigration has been a problem in the United States for decades. The US is currently facing a stream of undocumented immigrants into their country, a caravan leaving Guatemala as I type this. There are about thousands of people reported by CNN. By any historical comparison, this “huge” caravan is actually hugely small, but that’s a subject for another time. Illegal immigration overall has raised a lot of issues in the country, but it’s treated like it’s a recent phenomenon. Actually, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Illegal immigration is as old as a person or tribe designating a land as their own.


One of the unique Incan institutions was Mitma (The people performing mitma are called mitmaq). It was a forced relocation program used to calm rebellious areas and to break up those rebellious populations. The issue with it was many of these tribes/allyus weren’t okay with it. They were peacefully forced into doing it. The community that was chosen to perform mitma was broken up and was told to settle on land that the former inhabitants weren’t okay with. It was their land! Mitmaq could be in the tens of thousands.

Illegal Immigration? Not according to the Inca government in Cusco, but to everyone else, yes. These strangers were settling into a land that was someone else’s for thousands of years.

The US finds itself in an oddly similar situation today. Certain of the states and parts of the US government are complicit with allowing those that arrive without documents to settle in communities that don’t accept them.

Illegal immigrants making their way to the US

This is a picture of the current caravan of undocumented immigrants going to the US

The Mitma process

A loyal tribe/allyu was typically celebrated by the central government in Cusco with several awards, honors, and titles. According to the principles of ayni that was the golden rule of the Andes, once a gift was given the receiver had to reciprocate.Sometimes these ayllus were asked to reciprocate by breaking up their community and doing their civil service by resettling in a dangerous place. The goal was to have a portion of a loyal tribe/allyu demonstrate to the rebels how good the Inca government could be. The Inca were counting on these people to show the benefits of being loyal, to engage in intermarriage between the groups, and to report anything suspicious. The mitmaq coupled with the threat of military reprisal was usually more than enough to keep a hostile group at bay.

The rebellious allyus received a similar treatment, except it was typically by armed force. The worst of the group was resettled into peaceful places. There, no matter the hate they spewed or the Anti-Incanic sentiments they expressed, there were no ears to listen.

The Incas success with mitma, or forced illegal immigration.

The Inca had tremendous success with this system until the central government experienced catastrophic problems. Once the central authority fell due to the assassination of Atahualpa by the Spaniards, many of these mitma communities decided to “Get the hell out of Dodge.”

The communities, instead of coming together in a moment of crises, crumbled because they were divided. The allyus that accepted these “illegal immigrants” were no longer forced to take them in. They kicked them out! This likely resulted in several small battles when the only battle should have been against the Spanish.

Then there are those that left the moment they were able to. They wanted to go home. That’s all fine and dandy until you consider the area they resided in depended on their resources and manpower. In the emotion of the moment, populations don’t consider the contributions the “illegals” make. This likely resulted in localized famines which made them easy victims for 1) old enemies 2) the Spaniards.

On the flip side of this sudden and unexpected migration are these large groups of mitmaq returning home, except there wasn’t room for them. The mitmaq groups returning home could double the population of their original home.  That means when they returned the same crops that fed the settled population had to feed twice as many. That could be an influx of tens of thousands of people. This would likely create more mini-wars as tribes/allyus tried to take their neighbor’s resources.

Mitmaq: A gathering of Andeans ready to perform mitma: government sanctioned illegal immigration

Mitmaq were people that were forced to move by the Inca government into a land that wasn’t theirs.

How this ties to the US

The US stands little chance of being invaded by Spain, and if they were, well, Spain wouldn’t have a chance at any meaningful success. But there are other catastrophes that can overcome the US without warning (or with plenty of warning *cough cough* climate change). These are the moments that population migration is most likely and most damaging as we just saw in the Inca realm.

Considering no one short of the governments of several nations can stop the illegal immigration from occurring in the US there needs to be a war waged on discrimination. If a crises were to occur all hands must be ready to solve the problem and not revert to the basic human emotions of anger, hate, and going home.


Any people that are worried about illegal immigration has justified fears, but the issues of removing the illegals shouldn’t overshadow any crises that may befall the country. The Inca system of mitma demonstrated that. When the central government fell, the people reshuffle to how they thought the population should be organized which prompted mini-wars and famine. They should have instead focused on the crises at hand.